MOSCOW, Idaho -- A time line of Ernesto Bustamante's dealings with the University of Idaho beginning in August 2007, when he was first employed as an assistant professor of psychology, states early on he disclosed his bipolar disorder to department chair Ken Locke.
University of Idaho President Duane Nellis confirmed this during Wednesday's press conference, where he announced the release of a half-gigabyte of personnel records and emails pertaining to Bustamante.
The records are expected to shed light on the university's handling of a June sexual harassment complaint by graduate student Katy Benoit, whom Bustamante shot and killed in August, before committing suicide the next morning.
"In doing so, we're honoring the commitment to transparency that I made personally to the people of Idaho and the family of Katy Benoit," said Nellis in a prepared statement before members of the press, "as well as the University of Idaho's commitment to full disclosure."
The records are expected to be delivered Thursday to media outlets, and will include Bustamante's employment records, including those related to the university's consideration and action regarding Benoit's complaint and Bustamante's subsequent resignation.
"The university responded immediately and decisively to protect Katy and to remove Bustamante from our community," said Nellis.
The timeline released Wednesday by the UI states Bustamante admitted to having a sexual relationship with Benoit, as well as "sexual relationships with other students who are not his advisees or students," during a July 19 meeting conducted by Carmen Suarez, director of the UI's Office of Human Rights, Access and Inclusion, and Gary Williams, chair for the English department and co-investigator of Benoit's complaint. Following that meeting, Bustamante emailed Locke that he planned to resign.
Nellis said Bustamante was allowed to resign rather than be terminated because the firing process was more "elaborate," and would have taken more time.
"We were interested in expediting the separation between Bustamante and the University of Idaho," said Nellis.
Bustamante's resignation took effect Aug. 19, three days before he shot Benoit 11 times in the neck and chest at her Moscow home.
The timeline states Bustamante's "flirtatious behavior and favoritism" was brought to Locke's attention his first semester at the university in 2007 when "three or four female students" lodged a complaint against the former assistant professor. According to the timeline, Bustamante claimed the students "misunderstood his friendship with a student as a fellow Hispanic."
By 2010, his third year, the timeline states Bustamante was on his way to receiving tenure and a promotion. That same year in August, Benoit enrolled in his Psychology 218 class.
According to Benoit's June 12 complaint, she and Bustamante entered a relationship shortly after that, but the relationship deteriorated in mid-May following three separate threats with a handgun. Bustamante was also Benoit's advisor, and the complaint states Benoit feared her for the future of her academic career.
"Most of my activities at this University are somehow related to him and I don't want to ruin my academic career, but I cannot take classes of his any longer nor can I permit this twisted behavior to continue for the sake of myself and other women who will come after me," the complaint states.
On Dec. 7, 2010, a third-party report to the UI's ethics and compliance hotline claimed Bustamante was having a sexual relationship with a student, and a "claim of an abusive and coercive relationship with one student."
The student named declined to come forward and a formal complaint was never filed. Bustamante was warned about the university's intolerance "for sexual harassment or retaliation" and if he was having a sexual relationship, "it must stop immediately," according to the timeline. Bustamante denied the allegation. The timeline clarifies this student was not Benoit.
Nellis also announced during Wednesday's press conference revisions to the university's policy on consensual relationships, which UI counsel Kent Nelson explained would prohibit sexual relationships between a student and a faculty member who serves in an academic or supervisory capacity over that student. Relationships that fall outside of this definition would still be discouraged, he added. The Faculty Senate will review the policy for adoption.
Nellis also announced an enhancement of the university's training and education efforts relating to sexual harassment that will include mandatory courses for supervisors, faculty and staff. An independent review panel Nellis charged with reviewing university policies and recommending additional measures is expected to have a final report in the next couple of weeks, he said.
He added he also wants background checks for any potential UI employee implemented.
"In this particular case that wouldn't have led to any information that would have prevented us from making this hire," he said of Bustamante.
Also Wednesday, Moscow Police Cpl. Rodney Wolverton filed a return of search warrant in Latah County 2nd District Court that was issued to Nelson on Aug. 25 and also sought personnel records and additional information related to the police department's investigation of Bustamante for murder.
Moscow Police Chief David Duke said the UI provided his department with numerous documents Tuesday.
"We're currently reviewing those and the investigation is still open," he said.
Wolverton told Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson Wednesday he believed Nelson and the UI have complied with the search warrant, and acknowledged the size of the request did require additional time for the university to provide everything requested by the police department. Court documents show at least four motions for an extension of the warrant were filed. Among the items seized by MPD was Bustamante's work computer and flash drive.
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